Saturday, October 4, 2014

Husky men sixth; women third in stacked Washington Invitational meet...

Aaron Nelson of Washington (left/photo by Paul Merca),
who was listed as questionable entering the meet with a leg issue,
rallied to take fifth.
SEATTLE--On a perfect day for distance running, the cream of the collegiate crop converged upon the Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill for the inaugural version of the Washington Invitational, featuring eight nationally ranked men's squads, and three top-30 women's teams, not counting the host Huskies, who are nationally ranked as well.

The men's 8k race lived up to its billing, as #2 ranked Northern Arizona took the team title with a low score of 62 points.

However, #20 UCLA pulled the biggest surprise of the meet, pushing across the line four runners together in the top 12:  Lane Werley in 9th (23:40). Jonah Diaz and Nick Hartle in 10th and 11th (both 23:41); and Sergey Sushckickh in 12th (23:42) to finish second with 72 points.

#6 Stanford, which did not run either twins Jim and Joe Rosa, along with Maxim Korolev, the All-American graduate transfer from Harvard, dropped to third with 92 points.  #13 Virginia was fourth with 112 points, and #26 Oklahoma was fifth with 129 points, just ahead of #28 Washington with 152 points.

A group of six runners established themselves up front--Futsum Zienasellassie and Matt McElroy of Northern Arizona, Abbabiya Simbassa from Oklahoma, Patrick Tiernan and Brian Basili from Villanova; and Amos Bowen of Wyoming, with the Huskies' All-American Aaron Nelson, who was questionable going into Saturday's race, slowly working his way to the front.

Shortly after the 5k mark, Tiernan, an Australian import who was an All-American in the 5000 last year, asserted himself and began pulling away, opening a seven second gap at the bell, extending it to 20 seconds, winning the 8k race in 23:00, with Zienasellassie second in 23:20.

Simbassa was third in 23:22, with McElroy from Northern Arizona fourth in 23:26.

Nelson, who was eight seconds behind the lead pack at the halfway mark, rallied to finish fifth in 23:33.

After Nelson, Izaic Yorks finished 15th in 23:46; Tyler King was 39th at 24:20; Meron Simon was 45th in 24:31; and AJ Yarnall rounded out the Husky scorers in in 49th at 24:34.

Among notable runners with Washington ties, Spokane's Nathan Weitz, competing for Northern Arizona, was 26th at 24:06, and Keegan Symmes of the University of Portland from Sammamish was 34th in 24:16.
Kelsey Smith of UCLA, Maggie Schmaedick of Oregon,
Maddie Meyers of Washington, and eventual winner
Elise Cranny of Stanford lead early (Paul Merca photo)

The women's 6k race went to form, as #3 Oregon won the team title over #4 Stanford, who was missing All-American Aisling Cuffe, by a count of 49-55.

Oregon's pack running overcame the victory by Stanford frosh sensation Elise Cranny, the reigning USA junior cross country champion.

The host Huskies were third with 119 points, with UCLA fourth at 134 points, and Portland rounding out the top five with 144 points.

A group of six--Cranny, the Huskies' Maddie Meyers, UCLA's Kelsey Smith, Oregon's Maggie Schmaedick, Melanie Townsend of Northern Arizona, and Bothell native Tansey Lystad from Portland, went to the front as they exited the east straightway and made the right turn onto the south end of Jefferson Park.

The group of six stayed together, with Meyers, Townsend and Cranny pulling away entering the last of three laps.

In that final lap, Cranny opened up a gap on Townsend and Meyers, cruising to a seven second win over Townsend, 20:11 to 20:18.

Meyers, the winner of the Sundodger meet for the Huskies two weeks ago, held on to third in 20:20, with Oregon senior Lindsay Crevoiserat charging for fourth in 20:29.

Holly Page of Wyoming moved up to fifth in 20:31, just ahead of Lystad in 20:32.

Oregon's Frida Berge (20:40), and Molly Grabill (20:41) were 8th and 9th, with Stanford's Emma Fisher 10th in 20:42.

For the Huskies, Kaylee Flanagan was 26th in 21:01; Eleanor Fulton 28th in 21:02; Anatasia Kosykh 30th in 21:04; and Anna Maxwell was 32nd in 21:07 to round out the scoring five.

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